“One night we were hanging out, and Amber asked me ‘what do you want to do with your life’,” Melissa Leach, artistic director of The Three Leaches theater company said. “I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to open my own theater company, that’s the ultimate dream,’ and Amber was like ‘let’s do it.’”
The Three Leaches is the creation of CU English graduates Melissa Leach and Amber Irish. The theater company was started in 2010 by Leach, 25, and Irish, 24.
Samuel Tallent and Katie Fox practice for the Three Leaches production of "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot." (Courtesy of the Three Leaches)
“We had our website up and running pretty quickly,” Irish said. “It took us a little while to figure out how exactly we wanted to be defined as a theater company.”
The name of the company is a dedication to Leach’s theater-loving father and has a unique method for delivering shows—with a budget of only $1,000 per show. One of Leach’s professors at CU, a playwright, told them to find a distinctive angle for their company, and they decided that a cheap budget would be their calling card.
“It was kind of a nice slogan: ‘Theater under 1,000 that doesn’t suck,’” Leach said. “We like to consider ourselves pretty witty.”
Their first season ran from June, 2010 to May, 2011 with three shows. They are currently in their second season. Leach and Irish said about halfway through the season, more than half the seats filled, and their operation spread by word-of-mouth.
Notable shows included a collection of 10-minute original plays and a show that featured a simple set with multimedia aspects. They recently performed “Lonely Planet,” a character-oriented, two-man show. “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” is their latest play that opened Friday night. It’s also their first full-length show with an ensemble of characters. The story portrays Judas’ trial as if it was in our modern-day judicial system.
“I think now that we are still so very young as a company, we are given the opportunity to do new things every time we produce a show,” Leach said.
The two women became friends at CU and Leach saw Irish perform several times. They say they know many talented people between the two of them, but don’t give any special treatment to friends who audition for shows. They understand the competitiveness of the theater world and how hard it can be for an unknown individual to break into the business, they said.
Katherine Albers, a 24-year-old research associate in Denver, auditioned for The Three Leaches’ production of “Fool for Love” in May 2011. She saw an ad on Craigslist for open auditions and said she went to “check it out.”
Albers said she enjoyed her experience working for The Three Leaches theater company.
“I love Sam Shepard, [so] it was the play that drew me in,” Albers said. “They are great though … I love them, and I immediately wanted to work with them again. They were so organized and open and hard-working.”
The audition process involved an introduction by Leach and Irish about the company, individual monologues and a group cold reading of the script, Albers said. She says they had a very unbiased reaction to all the readings and she was surprised when they hired her. Albers said they were professional and felt like an established company.
“They really seemed to know what they were doing,” Albers said. “The rehearsals were well scheduled and pretty serious. At the same time they knew how to direct and be in charge and be open to what you wanted. Everyone worked together.”
The Three Leaches’ next show, “The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot,” premieres tonight, October 14 at 7 p.m., at the We’re House theater on Arapahoe Ave. For more show dates, or to learn more about The Three Leaches, visit their website.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Laura Poole at Laura.email@example.com.
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